Along with autumn leaves, the colours in fruit and vegetable markets are spectacular this time of year. More than just eye-catching, fresh produce is an excellent source of beta-carotene, vitamin C, fibre, folic acid and phytochemicals, all of which offer protection from diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
Here’s our list of Top 10 harvest foods.
1. Apples: Apples are rich in pectin, a soluble fibre that helps lower cholesterol. They also contain a variety of plant chemicals, including quercetin, a flavonoid with disease-fighting properties. Apples have been called nature’s toothbrush because they stimulate gums, increase saliva flow and reduce the buildup of cavity-causing bacteria.
2. Beets: Beets are an excellent source of folate, which is linked to lowering the risk of birth defects. One cup (250 millilitres) of beets has almost four grams of fibre, as well as potassium and vitamin C – all for only 58 calories. And don’t forget the tops: beet greens are rich in calcium, iron, beta-carotene and vitamin C.
3. Broccoli: One cup (250 millilitres) of cooked broccoli supplies about a quarter of your daily requirement of vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), more vitamin C than a glass of orange juice and five grams of protein, as well as calcium, folate, potassium and fibre – all for only 45 calories. Sulphoraphane, the powerful plant chemical in broccoli, has potent anticancer properties.
4. Cabbage: Cabbage is a member of the cruciferous family, which is thought to lower the risk of several cancers, including colon cancer. Cabbage, which is very low in calories (one cup/250 millilitres of chopped cabbage has only about 20 calories), is high in fibre and vitamin C. This versatile vegetable is delicious eaten raw in salads;
boiled, steamed, braised, sautéed or stir-fried as a side dish; or made into soup or cabbage rolls.
5. Carrots: Carrots are one of the richest sources of beta-carotene (also called provitamin A because it is converted to vitamin A in the body). One raw carrot also has two grams of fibre – and only 35 calories.
Page 1 of 2 -- Celebrate the bounty of a Canadian fall harvest with these next four fabulous foods, on page 2.
6. Cranberries: Cranberries contain vitamin C and fibre, and their juice has been shown to help prevent or relieve urinary tract infections. A cranberry’s red colour comes from anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants that may lower disease risk.
7. Parsnips: This root vegetable is tasty steamed, sautéed, baked, roasted or grilled. A half-cup (125 millilitres) serving has only 60 calories, is high in fibre and provides some potassium, vitamin C and folate.
8. Pears: You can eat pears fresh, poached or baked. One pear has about 100 calories and five grams of soluble fibre (about one-fifth of the daily amount suggested for good health), which helps lower cholesterol levels. A pear’s lower glycemic index can also help prevent the spiking of blood sugars.
9. Squash (including pumpkin): Rich in beta-carotene, potassium and fibre, squash is great in soups or as a side dish or dessert. One cup (250 millilitres) of cooked squash has about four grams of fibre, the same as two slices of whole wheat bread.
10. Sweet potatoes: Sweet potatoes are packed with beta-carotene, vitamin C, potassium, folate and fibre. Although you might think they are rich and fattening, at about 150 calories per 150 grams (equivalent to about one small potato), they contain no more fat or calories than white potatoes and significantly more beta-carotene. They are delicious baked, mashed or made into fries.
Page 2 of 2 -- On page 1, learn which foods top our fall favourites list.